8 posts · 11,174 views
Graduate student with eclectic interests in the philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, evolutionary biology, psychology, and music theory.
This post is the result of reading Wittgenstein and the philosophy of simulation literature in close temporal proximity. Here is Paul Humphreys on epistemic opacity in computer simulations: a process is epistemically opaque relative to a cognitive agent X at time t just in case X does not know at t all of the epistemically [...]... Read more »
Humphreys, P. (2008) The philosophical novelty of computer simulation methods. Synthese, 169(3), 615-626. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-008-9435-2
I continue to be amazed at the flimsiness of the heuristics that physicists use, often successfully, to make important theoretical progress. A particularly shocking example I’ve just read is Heisenberg’s “discovery” that systems with symmetric wavefunctions correspond to those that obey Bose-Einstein statistics, and that those with anti-symmetric wavefunctions correspond to those that obey Pauli’s [...]... Read more »
Dirac, P. (1926) On the Theory of Quantum Mechanics. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Containing Papers of a Mathematical and Physical Character (1905-1934), 112(762), 661-677. DOI: 10.1098/rspa.1926.0133
Heisenberg, W. (1926) Mehrkörperproblem und Resonanz in der Quantenmechanik. Zeitschrift für Physik, 38(6-7), 411-426. DOI: 10.1007/BF01397160
I was browsing through a collection of Landau’s papers and came across one of the more bizarre explanations of the second law of thermodynamics that I’ve seen. The few people who frequent this blog probably don’t need this explained to them, but the reason why many philosophers think that the second law needs ‘explaining’ is [...]... Read more »
M. Bronstein, & L. Landau. (1933) Über den zweiten Wärmesatz und die Zusammenhangsverhältnisse der Welt im Großen. Physikalische zeitschrift der Sowjetunion, 114. info:/
In particle physics, experimentalists often aim to set limits on certain physical quantities, in part to verify theories. Say a theory predicts that a particle called Gobbledygook has a 10-8 chance of decaying into two Gooks and a chance of decaying into three Gobbles. Often, the ratio between these two decay modes are closely related [...]... Read more »
There’s a long history of attempts to prove that information theoretic entropy is somehow connected to thermodynamic entropy. Most of these attempts have used Maxwell’s Demon or elaborate thought experiments involving single-molecule gases in boxes with removable walls and pistons and such. The likes of Charles Bennett have then gone on to spin out various [...]... Read more »
J Ladyman, S Presnell, & A Short. (2008) The use of the information-theoretic entropy in thermodynamics. Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 39(2), 315-324. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsb.2007.11.004
J Earman, & J Norton. (1998) Exorcist XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell's Demon. Part I. From Maxwell to Szilard. Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 29(4), 435-471. DOI: 10.1016/S1355-2198(98)00023-9
J Earman, & J Norton. (1999) EXORCIST XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell's Demon. Part II. From Szilard to Landauer and Beyond. Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 30(1), 1-40. DOI: 10.1016/S1355-2198(98)00026-4
I was skimming through this recent PRL paper [preprint here], which purports to show that the non-trivial zeroes of the Riemann zeta function correspond to the energy levels of a quantum mechanical system. My initial reaction was that it’s a cute result, but not one that’s going to help prove/disprove the Riemann Hypothesis. The final [...]... Read more »
Germán Sierra, & Paul K. Townsend. (2008) Landau Levels and Riemann Zeros. Physical Review Letters, 101(11). DOI/10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.110201
This paper by Alexandre Korolev arguing that Norton’s Dome isn’t a kosher case of indeterminism in Newtonian physics appeared on my RSS reader recently. I was very curious about Korolev’s paper, but found it to be a letdown. In fact, Norton addresses most of Korolev’s objections in his 2006 update to the manuscript.
After some lengthy [...]... Read more »
Alexandre Korolev. (2007) Indeterminism, Asymptotic Reasoning, and Time Irreversibility in Classical Physics. Philosophy of Science, 74(5), 943-956. DOI/10.1086/525635
Ever since I read The Selfish Gene, I’ve been wondering what exactly group selection could bring to the table of theoretical population genetics that kin selection could not. Every case of group selection observed in nature that I read about turned out to involve groups of individuals that have a higher-than-average relatedness within their group ... Read more »
S WEST, A S GRIFFIN, & A GARDNER. (2007) Social semantics: altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20(2), 415-432. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01258.x
D WILSON. (2007) Social semantics: toward a genuine pluralism in the study of social behaviour. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2007.01396.x
S WEST, A S GRIFFIN, & A GARDNER. (2007) Social semantics: how useful has group selection been?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2007.01458.x
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